By Adam Hoge–
Game of the Week: Michigan State at Penn State
This game means a lot for the Spartans, who can earn a share of the Big Ten title for the first time since 1990. And even that season they had a 6-2 Big Ten record, so this kind of success is pretty rare. But it’s been awhile since Michigan State looked great (probably Oct. 9 against Michigan) and meanwhile, Penn State has improved mightily. The Spartans haven’t won in Happy Valley since 1965, which was the year before Joe Paterno became head coach.
Matchup of the Week: Matt McGloin vs. Michigan State defense.
It seems pretty likely the Nittany Lions will be able to slow down Michigan State’s offense. That appears to be a theme for the Spartans on the road and this is MSU’s first road game since only managing six points at Iowa. It won’t be that bad this time around, but Kirk Cousins is banged up. The question is, can the Lions put up enough offense to win? That will be up to quarterback Matt McGloin who has sparked an offense that was nonexistent early in the season. If he has a good game, Penn State should be able to get its eighth win of the season.
BCS Impact: If the Spartans manage to win at Penn State, it will likely create a three-way tie for the Big Ten title with Wisconsin and Ohio State—assuming they both win. The BCS standings will then determine which team gets to go to the Rose Bowl and right now, the Badgers have a healthy lead in that regard. But the Buckeyes will likely clinch another BCS bowl berth with a win and that would send Michigan State to the Capital One Bowl. If Ohio State loses and the Spartans win, MSU will go to the Rose Bowl because of their head-to-head victory against Wisconsin. The Badgers would still go to a different BCS bowl game however, as long as they take care of business against Northwestern at home.
Ohio State 45, Michigan 21: It seems pretty likely the Buckeyes will get their seventh straight win over Michigan Saturday. The Wolverines couldn’t stop a high school team from scoring at this point and Ohio State’s defense won’t allow Denard Robinson to keep pace.
Penn State 28, Michigan State 24: I really don’t like how the Spartans have played lately. They’ve made a bad habit of getting behind early and that will be a recipe for disaster at Penn State. Once again, Kirk Cousins will have to bring his team back from a deficit, but it just won’t be enough on the road.
Purdue 31, Indiana 24: The Boilermakers have played better lately, but have been unable to get wins against teams that are headed to bowl games. Indiana, winless in the Big Ten, is the right opponent for the Boilers to get their third win of the season. Meanwhile, it’s possible Bill Lynch will be coaching for his job in this game.
Iowa 31, Minnesota 13: The Gophers have had two weeks to prepare for this one, but I can’t see them scoring a whole lot of points against Iowa’s defense. It’s been a rough go for the Hawkeyes’ offense lately as they haven’t scored more than 18 points the last three weeks. But I’ve been saying it all year long: Nothing gets you right like playing Minnesota.
Wisconsin 45, Northwestern 17: This wasn’t a great matchup for Northwestern before Dan Persa got hurt and it looks even worse now. The ‘Cats can’t stop the run and the Badgers have run over every defense it has faced this season. The ‘Cats also can’t block anyone and defensive player of the year candidate J.J. Watt will put plenty of pressure on freshman quarterback Evan Watkins. It will be a long day for Northwestern in Madison.